Busy Bee Cafe
Taps: 19 / Bottles: 120
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 24 | Reviews: 21 | Show All Ratings:
4.83/5 rDev +11.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Went to Busy Bee on 1/22/2010.
Not that busy for a Saturday night, so no wait for a table which was nice. The atmosphere was quieter and the decor is just my style. Exposed brick walls with a nice clean and classic bar.
First things first: the beer. This place is not a place with a giant tap list, but it is definitely a place that reminds me that you don't need a giant tap list to have great beer. Lil' Sumpin' Wild, FBS, Knob Creek barrel aged Foothills People's Porter, and DFH Burton Baton are just a few highlights from their 15ish taps. In the past week they've tapped two kegs of Hopslam, tonight they are tapping Backwoods Bastard, tomorrow Hoptimum, and on Wednesday a keg voted for on their website (looks like it will be Terrapin Big Daddy Vladdy). For the record I went for the barrel aged People's Porter and the wife got Brooklyn Cuvee Noire. There are a lot of bottled choices for those who want more options too, but I rarely get bottles.
The service was good and our waitress seemed to be knowledgeable about beer, although we didn't ask any tough questions.
The food menu isn't huge either, which wasn't a big deal because I once again found something I wanted quite easily. It's basically high end bar food, but I can honestly say that I have not had a better burger in the state of North Carolina. There are some more interesting choices too such as fish tacos, shrimp and grits, and chicken pot pie.
The beer is a bit more expensive than other places around, but I still gave it the $$ rating because the food is reasonably priced and they don't seem to do the rarity pricing that some places around do. I got a generous pour (listed as 12 oz. but I'm pretty sure I got a full 16) of barrel aged people's porter for $6, and I have a feeling that I could name a few establishments around here that would have sold me a 10 oz. pour for $8 or more. So don't expect to get a $3 pint, but the pricing relative to the quality of beer is actually very good.
01-24-2011 14:43:52 | More by slowbie
4.8/5 rDev +10.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
Updating my review because we've been frequenting BB a lot since my last review and because they've been steadily making changes to the place. More taps have been added, and they have committed to keeping at least one sour on at all times, which is nice since my wife has discovered that she really likes Guezes. Bottle list has expanded to include more wilds and vintages.
They also got a cask engine recently, and they do Thursday Cask Nights with some great offerings. The dry-hopped Hoppyum cask was excellent a few weeks ago, and they got NBB Night of Foeder recently as well. They're doing a cask of Hannsen's Oude Gueze on thursday for their Belgian Independence Day party.
We've gotten to know some of the bartenders, and they'll bring us samples of new things they think we might like. The owners, Woody & Chris, are good guys who always come over to chat beer or tell us about cool things that they have coming up. They have worked hard to get a bunch of regional breweries to do one-off Busy Bee exclusives, and I've had BA versions of stuff from Lonerider, Foothills, Terrapin, etc over the past few months. A lot of other cool little things like an iPhone app with their currrent tap list and updates about what theyre going to tap next, letting people vote for kegs to tap on the website, brrewing with local homebrewers and posting interviews online, more and more beer dinners and events with brewery reps, etc.
Awesome guys who always have something creative in the works, and that makes for a fun and unique bar-going experience. Busy Bee is now our regular spot. <end update>
Went to the Busy Bee on 12/17 for my second or third visit. This place is pretty great! Lots of exposed brick with multiple levels and bars on two floors.
Draft selection is fairly small (probably 15 taps between the two bars), but it always has some really excellent offerings. You can tell their beer guy knows his stuff. Price is so-so on draft. Their bottle list is pretty nice with a lot of big name bombers/750s, but the bottles are marked up a fair amount. I'd say 75-80% of the stuff on the bottle list can be had pretty easily at bottle shops in the Triangle for less. I will definitely stick to draft.
I had a tough time deciding between the Avery duganA, Terrapin Wake-n-Bake, and Terrapin Moo-Hoo. I went with the duganA, and it was poured perfectly into proper glassware (a SN tulip...I also noticed that they serve in DFH Signature Glasses, which is my glassware of choice at home). It was on tap upstairs, which was closed due to a private party. I asked my waitress if she could still go up and get me a glass during the private party, and she came through.
The menu is pretty good, with small plates, soups/sandwiches, and large plates. The large plates are expensive. Each time I've gone, I've stuck to the small plates/sides/sandwiches. Two small plates make a nice meal. I ordered the loaded tots burger, which was outstanding. They have these loaded tots on the appetizer...fanciest tater tots I ever did see. They have sour cream, bacon, green onions, and cheese sauce. The burger wasn't on the menu but on special, and it was basically an order of the loaded tots plunked down on top of a burger. Great mac-n-cheese on the side.
07-19-2011 14:32:37 | More by JebediahScooter
4.63/5 rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
We spent our evening at the downstairs bar but later found out that upstairs has a very nice outdoor deck. The bartender was extremely liberal with samples. He even brought samples of beers we hadn't requested based on what we did like. I had a Brooklyn Cookie Jar Porter and a Dogfish 90 min. We sampled Foothills barrel aged hoppyum, Dogfish 60 min, Avery Maharaja, and Lonerider Chef's wit. They had a nice wide selection of beers, including plenty of local brews. We did order food, which was delicious, but the portions were a bit small. I was shocked that our tab was only $60 since I was quite tipsy when we left. Then I remembered all those samples I had consumed....
05-06-2010 13:08:28 | More by alohawahini
4.58/5 rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
Have been to this spot many times over the past year and have just got around to review.
Great laid back atmosphere especially if you get there earlier in the evening and can get a place to sit. Service IMO is always top notch, the bartenders definitely know there beer and are more than happy to give you samples and never act like your burdening them when you ask questions. Both bars have plenty of servers so that even when it gets crowded at night you never have to wait for a beer.
Excellent beer selection, they only have about 15 taps but they are always great craft beers as well as some rarities. Also with less taps they go through beer fast and always have a few new beers on tap each time you go. Plenty of bottle beers to choose from as well.
The food is a little average when compared to similar restaurants in the downtown area. But for about $9-$10 a plate its a pretty good deal to offset the expensive beers. The value overall is a bit on the pricey side just because the beers are pretty expensive, but they just started doing a $2 craft beer every night which definitely helps out the wallet.
Overall an excellent place to enjoy a beer, easily one my favorite spot in the triangle. Its a pub that anyone visiting the area needs to go if you enjoy good craft brew.
02-03-2011 19:42:10 | More by Wolfpack2005
4.47/5 rDev +3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
After hearing about this place from rtratzlaff I headed over from Saucer to find a very hopping place for a Tuesday night. I had already been told that they had Obamagang on tap, and completely forgot about it upon seeing they had Brooklyn Coffee Stout as well as well as $7 bottles of Kentucky Breakfast Stout. I have been back a few times, and they were not surprisingly out of KBS on the next visit. The tap selection is very respectable with a rotating Aviator tap, Rare Vos, some good Belgians in The Hive upstairs, which also boasts a nice rooftop patio. The only BMC beer on tap was Miller High Life. The service was very good, especially for a place that had just opened. The menu is basic pub fare, and the burger I had earlier this week was tasty and reasonably priced. This place cleverly opens at 6am as a coffee shop, and the coffee certainly smells good, although I haven't tried it yet. The prices are very reasonable, especially compared to other places in the area, one in particular that's around the corner. All in all, it's looking like the taps don't get rotated quite as quickly as The Pit, but that place is an exception to the rule. This is certainly a place worth stopping in whenever you're downtown looking for beer, I know I will be.
04-18-2009 23:29:57 | More by atsprings
4.45/5 rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$$
The atmosphere was great for starters. Kind of a remodeled urban/industrial. Very cool vibe, relaxing, modern, etc. Quality was good. Great beers available and the food was all organic and local which is a huge plus. Service was great. The waitress was very helpful and was knowledgeable about the beers and food. She was quick to offer me samples of beers that I hadn't had before and had plenty to say about them as well. There wasn't a ton of beer but what they had was exceptional. They had the usual micros/belgiums/imports that you'd expect in a decent beer bar plus a nice selection of local brews and hard to find stuff. I had a pint of the Brooklyn Backbreaker which was served in the brewery's special glassware which was a nice touch. The food was phenomenal. One of the best burgers (and meals in general) that I've had in quite a long time. As value goes, the food is decent but there beer is both good and bad. I think paying $6 for a bottled Bell's Two Hearted is a bit much but then again they had a bottle of Orval for $8 which seemed a little more reasonable. Also, the draft of Backbreaker that I had was $5 I think or maybe 6. At any rate, you have to be careful as some beers seem very over priced while others seem pretty reasonable. I'd probably avoid the bottle list at all costs. Overall this is a great hangout that I plan on visiting every time I go to Raleigh. I'd highly recommend this place to anyone.
02-11-2010 01:26:18 | More by apbarwood
4.4/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Located one block off Fayetteville street and just around the corner from the Raleigh Times.
Small bar area. Lots of table seating and loft area for small gatherings. A couple of outside tables on the sidewalk.
Separate upstairs bar area. 8 taps up and down. What they lack in quantity, they make up for in quality. Always a very solid tap lineup with several beers hard if not impossible to find anywhere else in town.
The menu has some interesting twists on bar good. No kids menu, but a very kid-friendly place during the day and early evening. Nice brunch menu on Sunday. Try the crack tots ... two over easy eggs on a bed of seasoned tater tots. Crazy good.
Good tv coverage in the bar (only 2, though) but not obtrusive.
Not a cheap place to go out, but the quality of the taps make up for that.
Well worth a stop if you are in downtown.
08-23-2010 15:56:23 | More by beer2day
4.4/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Overall, a great place to sit and enjoy a good craft beer with some pretty decent food. Selection is decent but, not as vast as the flying saucer. The service of the staff varies depending on the night just as any other normal bar. However, the many times I've been and asked for something new, the staff is always good at recommending new beers as well as explaining their recommendation. The atmosphere is tight and dim sometimes but, still likable.
If you're just looking a for a nice place to sit and enjoy a few new craft beers and a nice environment this is the place to go.
07-20-2012 15:32:48 | More by JoshuaKyleSmith
4.36/5 rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I entered the Busy Bee Cafe on the high recommendation of the friend who took me there, but I'm not sure I expected it to be THIS great.
The place is large, but more long than wide, and feels like a spacious, modern saloon. Very much an establishment focused on drinking great beer, all other concerns sitting on the periphery. (Even better would have been no TVs at all, but they were showing some baseball, so okay...) The service was fine, quick enough, but not overly friendly. No big deal.
It's the selection that amazes. No, maybe not the hugest tap selection, but they absolutely deal in 100% quality here. I spotted and tried a couple of beers that aren't even on the market yet, or might have just gotten there (like new offerings from both Dogfish Head and Ommegang). And every single beer they serve is something of some high degree of quality, something to fit just about any palate.
I was totally focused on our beer and our conversation, so there's probably not a ton more insight I can offer, other than this: 1) go there when in Raleigh, and 2) You won't be disappointed, and 3) Go There When in Raleigh!!!
09-05-2011 00:52:55 | More by Metalmonk
4.33/5 rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I visit the bee somewhat regularly, definitely one of my favorite Raleigh bars. Including upstairs and downstairs taps, they keep a steady rotation of interesting and good beer. That, and the owners seem to have a serious liking for sours and bourbon-barrel aged beers, so I can usually find something randomly barrel-aged by Foothills or a nice sour like Allagash Vrienden. It's probably my favorite draft selection in Raleigh. Not to mention, they also have quite a large bottle list.
I've found the service to be pretty solid, and if you sit at the bar it's better. Great bartenders. Good food too, they have a rotating menu based on fresh & local, but I can't seem to not get one of their burgers...good stuff.
Also attended some events like the beer dinner with Sam from Dogfish and their anniversary parties when they pull out about 8 kegs of barrel-aged beers they've stashed away.
05-06-2011 05:20:39 | More by Beerness
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Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh, NC
95 out of 100 based on 24 user ratings.